Friday, March 8, 2013

Heading to a non-alpaca alpaca show


Over the past few years, as the economy has changed, so have our sources of revenue and how we generate our income depending solely on alpacas.  While we still sell 15-25 alpacas each year, alpaca prices have dropped while overhead – hay, pasture, taxes, gas – has gone up.  Now, alpaca clothing and textiles are a major part of our income.


Our Alpaca Products





The Alpacas are a huge hit at the show

Because of the work and money invested into each product, our costs are “boutique” and higher than most.  We found that if we just bring our products to a show, people slow down, check the price as their eyes widen and then quickly move on.  Bringing our alpacas to the shows – especially downtown in large cities like Salt Lake and Denver – greatly increases our overall success of our show.  The prices are still the same, but there is a better story behind it and people get a better understanding of our vertical integration with our company.  A sock is a sock unless you can explain why alpaca is different.  Alpacas of Montana, Inc. is the largest alpaca farm in Montana and one of the largest vertically integrated alpaca textile companies in the nation.  We are Born, Shorn and Worn in the U.S..

People petting the baby
Bringing in animals to a show creates lists of checklists to figure out during the show as well as days and months prior to arrival.  Getting full permission, security, marketing, logistics issues.  How are they not going to smell after 4 days?  Febreeze.  Where will they sleep at night?  In the back yard of my mom’s condo. How do we walk them through downtown and into a convention center that is not animal oriented?  Lots of training.
Waiting it out together

Checking out the back yard where they will be sleeping for a few nights


We found keeping our guard dog Turkish Anatolian Grizzly with us helps calm the alpacas during the shows.  No one is let in the pen without us in there and we offer minimal petting except for the dog.  We do pick up the babies on occasion and let the onlookers feel the fleece every few hours.  This really increases sales and helps desensitize the baby over time.  While water is always available, decreasing the pellets eaten really slows down body functions, which minimizes picking up messes.  We use puppy pee pads under alpaca show mats to absorb urine.


Keeping Cool on the Cement



40,000+ people came to this show

While it is tiring, I always love the look on peoples faces as they register that there are live animals in a convention show.  Many people come back every day as well as every few hours to see them.  It creates a long term memory in their minds and often buy from us down the road.  We monitor every alpaca carefully to see if anything changes in their demeanor, eating or otherwise.  We have had great success with our alpaca shows.

Heading to Coors Field on the Shuttle Bus
Mingling with the locals